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Just One Night [M]


Charis
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Charis was a common name among slaves, and therefore freedwomen - or at least, it wasn't an uncommon name. So Teutus didn't put two and two together until he'd accepted Alexius' invitation and crossed the threshold into the small apartment.

"Charis?" he said, in response to seeing her. He had not expected to see the mother of his father's heir here. 

He wasn't about to blame Alexius, the man might not even be aware she was a slave. But Tertius wouldn't be best pleased if he found out his slave had been sleeping around.

 

@Atrice @Sara

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Alexius thought it would be fine if he invited Teutus in. Usually his lovers didn’t mind, they’d just join the conversation or they would stay in bed until Alexius’ guest had left… or they had to go and then they’d excuse themselves quickly, especially if they were someone important in the Roman society. Charis shouldn’t mind though, but he heard her move about behind the curtains and then she came walking into the main room with a sheet pulled around her. Her long hair was quite the mess, probably thanks to last night, but she looked lovely, even in the sheet. Even more without it, he thought to himself, while she wondered whom he was talking to.

 It happened so fast then. Teutus had somehow made his way into the flat, when Charis looked up at Teutus and seemed to know him. And in return… Teutus did the same. Alexius arched a brow, seeming surprised for a moment.

 “You two know each other? It’s a small w…” He trailed off, as his mind had somehow managed to put two and two together. Teutus complaining about the child a slavegirl just had with his father, who was now the new heir. Charis having been pregnant and now she had the child and it was her dominus’ child. Fuck! Why did he not realize this until now?

 “I uhm…” He scratched the back of his head, thinking, then hurried with closing the door. There had to be some way to fix this. Whatever this was… it didn’t even cross his mind right now, that it could be awkward that he also slept with both of them. Sex was lovely and wonderful and half of his life, but in the end, it was just that. Sex. It didn’t matter as much as the people. He liked both Teutus and Charis. Teutus and he might do business together. Charis was his friend. Now both with benefits. But right now, this was a mess. A mess he had to clean up… “Why don’t we have a cup of wine and sort things out?” Alexius invited both over to the table. He and Charis still had their cups from last night and he picked a new one from a shelf for Teutus. Wine would solve everything, right?

@Sara @Sharpie

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Charis kept one hand firmly clutching the sheet around her body, and the other grasping at the curtain behind her to steady herself. She said nothing at Teutus repeating her name, she only stared with wide eyes and a slightly slack jaw. She was surprised neither could hear the hammering of her heart against her chest. 

You stupid fool, you stupid, stupid woman she repeated to herself. Her one moment of hedonism, of relaxation since she had arrived and the Gods were punishing for her. She should have been stronger, she shouldn't have come. But the damage was done, and judging by Alexius' awkward glance at both of them and the way he hurried to latch the door shut, he understood what had happened. Had Teutus mentioned her? He must have done, and the thought sat like a lead weight in her stomach. 

She nodded mutely at Alexius' suggestion but her face was pale and drawn with worry. She stumbled forward to the upturned stool she had used last night and sat herself down, tucking in the top corner of the sheet as she did so to fashion a dress for herself. There was not a great deal of point in excusing herself to re-dress, the damage had already been done and the thought of wine, even with her tiredness and slight hangover, was enticing. She needed something to steady her nerves. 

She stayed silent and didn't say anything to Teutus. What was there to say; why she was here was obvious. She had reverted, in those brief few moments since he had entered the insula to the slave girl she was to Teutus now, quiet, eyes down, waiting for the whim of those who owned her.

 

TAG: @Sharpie @Atrice

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It seemed Teutus was following right along in his father's footsteps as far as the ability to make things awkward went. The difference was, of course, that Tertius didn't seem to notice - or to care, if he did notice - whereas Teutus did.

It was all his father's fault anyway, as always.

"I won't interrupt, I can come back later, or we can meet up in a wineshop or something," Teutus said, trying to extricate himself somehow. It hadn't escaped him that Charis had gone silent and passive, precisely the sort of behaviour a slave ought to show around their master - except that they had been friends and even now Teutus didn't particularly feel like her master.

Not that his feelings about it mattered, one way or the other.

 

@Atrice@Sara

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Posted (edited)

Alexius felt like such an idiot – why had he not concluded this before? That Charis and Teutus had been talking about each and he knew both of them, so he should have guessed! It was a mess, it really was. If only he’d been smarter. But that’s why he should stick to fighting and having sex. Because that’s all he was good at. He was clearly not very good at thinking! It all went through his head while he tried to produce cups and wine for both of them, it was so obvious now. He wanted to kick himself for being so stupid.

And look at Charis, suddenly acting her part as a slave, instead of the lovely lover she’d been all night. She was quiet, pale and seemed troubled, while she went to sit down. Meanwhile Teutus said he didn’t want to interrupt, but the damage was done and he had interrupted already, so… they had to sort this out, somehow. If they could. Fuck!

“We’ll talk business some other time.” Alexius said and placed the cups in front of them and poured wine, also for himself, before he too sat down. Then he looked at Charis, brushed a bit of the unruly hair away from her face with a gentle touch, “You can act normal, Charis… this is my home. Teutus is my guest, as are you.” Alexius said and then downed a large gulp of his wine, before setting it down and looking at them both, folding his hands around the cup.

“Listen… I see this is a mess. And I’m sorry. I should have guessed… and I’m sorry I didn’t.” Alexius said. He hated talking about serious matters like this. But he wasn’t a child and he had to take responsibility for his actions, that’s just how it was… he looked at Teutus, thinking about who he was and that his father was Charis’ dominus. And Teutus’ father was also the father of Charis’ child. He could easily imagine Tertius would hate it if he knew about Charis being here. So… “Will you tell your father about this? I really don’t want Charis to get into trouble. She’s been through enough.”

@Sara @Sharpie

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Charis gratefully took the offered cup of wine, but stayed still and quiet. Even at Alexis' insistence and gentle touch (which she did not react to) that she should act normal, free, she did not. She felt ashamed of herself, ashamed of her lust that might well have thrown all the finally settled pieces of her life into disarray. 

And then Alexius verbalised her worry with 'will you tell your father about this?' and she turned wide, blue eyes up to Teutus. She had hoped their friendship would have prevailed even his new position, but the birth of her son - who had, in essence, usurped his own position and future in the household was a damaging thing. 

She couldn't stop herself before she blurted out; "Please..." Her wide eyes were filled with anxiety and she swallowed the lump in her throat, "This was the first time, the only time, since I've been in Rome..." Because of course, should Tertius or Teutus have any suspicion that Charis was sleeping around, that might very well throw the paternity of Peregrinus into question. 

 

TAG: @Sharpie @Atrice

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"I..." He what? He hadn't planned on telling Tertius anything, but the sudden thought that he could, that he could cast a shadow over whether Charis' baby was Tertius' son was tempting.

But Tertius had already claimed paternity; whether or not the child was his barely mattered.

He suddenly registered that he was holding a beaker of wine, and found that he desperately needed some. It was rougher than the wine he routinely drank now, but no rougher than what he'd been used to as a slave, and he took a second mouthful, taking the time to try to think.

"I'm not going to get you in trouble," he said eventually, and then, to both of them, "We've been friends."

They couldn't continue to be, not really, but Teutus couldn't blame her for any of the mess his father had created. He added, striving to sound neutral, "You shouldn't sneak out of the house and -" he gestured, meaning, you shouldn't sleep around.

Because even if it was the first time, it would only take one nosy neighbour. Or Teutus himself, if he were more Roman (ha!) and less torn over everything. He should tell his father, really. Probably.

 

@Atrice @Sara

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Gods, really? They just had such a nice evening and night, he and Charis did. And now that Teutus was here she didn’t even respond to his touch. Fucking rules and etiquette and fucking Romans and their frustrating system of how things were supposed to be between masters and slaves! It wasn’t Teutus or Charis that made him feel so upset… it was the Romans and their rules. And now after this lovely night, Charis suffered under them again. It barely took longer than a snap of the fingers, then she was there again. As if it hadn’t been enough for her already.

 Before Teutus could talk, she did, then… pleading with Teutus to not tell his father, saying this was the only time she’d done this since she came to Rome. A thought flew through his mind, about confirming this to Teutus, because he’d known Charis for a while now and it wasn’t like he hadn’t tried with her before! But she’d denied him every time. Until last night. And now… he doubted she’d ever come back. It was all so messed up.

 He drank some more wine and inhaled a breath to steady himself, while Teutus thought it all over. He trailed off at first. Why did he do that? Did he actually consider telling Tertius about this whole thing? Seriously? But what about Charis… but then Teutus came to his senses and said he’d not get Charis in trouble as they had been friends. Then he told her to not sneak out of the house and do what she just did, as if he wasn’t also a freedman who’d suffered as a slave once.

 “You do remember what last night were, right? Saturnalia?” Alexius said then, glancing at Charis briefly, then looking back to Teutus, “But I’m glad you won’t tell… you won’t, right?” That’s what it meant, right, not getting her in trouble? Teutus hadn’t declared it clearly, so Alexius didn’t quite trust the situation yet. He felt protective to Charis… and defensive. A lot could be said about him, but when his friends were in trouble, he'd do whatever he could to protect them. Sure, he considered Teutus a friend too, but he wasn't the one in trouble right now. And he’d known Charis the longest. Alexius hadn’t been a slave for a long time now, but those years still sat deep within him. She had to know he was on her side.

@Sara@Sharpie

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Charis had hoped to feel relief wash over her but none came. Teutus' words still sounded considered, measured but...not entirely truthful. If he told then...there was no predicting what would happen. Tertius was difficult enough to read when he was in a good mood; when he felt slighted or lied to, it was a whole other situation. She swallowed the bile that rose in her throat. 

She glanced across at Alexius; nibbling at her lower lip as she did so. He was trying to help, she could see that, and she felt a flurry of...something...gratitude (?) in her chest for him. "I won't do it again," She interjected as Alexius asked for clarification that Teutus wouldn't inform his father. She shook her head, "It was a mistake, just once..." She felt as if her heart was going to beat out of her chest. What had happened to her?! Three years ago she would have laughed about this, joked about something like this, but now...she was back to herself after the trauma of being locked in her room, in most respects - but the fear would likely never leave her. 

Feeling as if she was going to explode, she hurriedly stood, clutching the sheet to her chest to preserve her modesty. "I should go..." She didn't wait for a reply before she practically ran back towards the curtain and pulled it across. Where on earth was her dress?! 

 

TAG: @Sharpie @Atrice

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Teutus was the one who should go. He had no intention of telling his father - he would not ever confide anything in his father, he thought, though Tertius might wish otherwise. But obviously he hadn't been believed, because he was Tertius' son. Not that he had any real rights of sonship, or anything.

"I shouldn't have come," he said awkwardly. "But I won't tell - there's nothing to tell, is there. And I'm not a tell-tale, anyway."

It would have been so very easy to be, though, with everything Teutus had gone through in his life. So easy to do exactly what Hector did and play on his relationship with Tertius by telling all sorts of tales on the other slaves. He never had, though, and didn't plan on starting now - a man had to have some sort of honour, even if it was just not telling tales on others.

He put the cup down. "I should go. Tell Charis - tell Charis I won't tell. And I'm sorry."

 

@Atrice @Sara

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Charis said she wouldn’t do it again. Alexius felt a little jab inside when she said that, did that mean this was the only time he’d ever get to share and give pleasure to this lovely woman here? Might be the only time she truly experienced it? She’d seemed so… not inexperienced the night before, but it was new for her and she had enjoyed every moment of it, he was sure. And now she said she’d not do it again. Well fuck. He had seen how she glanced at him before she said, but then she did say it. Alexius felt like tearing something apart. He might go and spar with Thessala today.

 Then Charis even called this a mistake and before he could stop her, she’d run away and disappeared behind the curtains around his bed. Alexius looked at Teutus, who also looked like he’d rather not be here. This wasn’t right at all, any of it. And the awkward situation wasn’t even because he slept with them both. Because sex and pleasure was just that, but they were his friends and he’d been an idiot, not realizing they knew each other before it was too late. Teutus said he should not have come, but he wouldn’t tell anything to his father.

 “I’m glad to hear that, at least.” Alexius said, smiling a little bit, hoping that might help. Teutus put the cup down and wanted to go.

 “I’m the one who’s sorry, Teutus. This one is on me. I should have known.” I should have been smarter, but I'm not. But he stood none the less, to walk Teutus to the door, “You need to trust yourself more. I hope we can still be friends?” But what were the chances, now he messed everything up? Now that he’d been the fool and ruined what had been a perfect night for Charis. When she thought about it now, she’d remember this morning too. And Teutus wouldn’t forget he met her here. Alexius definitely knew now what it felt like, to be the worst friend ever.

@Sara @Sharpie

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Charis hurriedly redressed, but finding her clothes seemed impossible under the scattered pillows and tangled sheets after her night of passion with Alexius. She managed to find her underwear and donned them before sourcing her tunica under the bed. It was creased and looked well-worn. Her heart thrummed in her chest as she pulled it on and knotted the ties at her shoulders and looped the thin fabric belt around her waist. She could hear conversation through the curtain but tried not to focus on it, instead raking her fingers through her hair to try and tame it. 

Slipping on her sandals which lay in a heap at the foot of the bed she stumbled back through the curtain in time to see Alexius leading Teutus to the door. "Don't leave," she said to Teutus - surprised at the vehemence in her voice, "I'm going, I'm going, you should stay." The lump in her throat felt like it would choke her but she slipped past Alexius nimbly to the door. She shot her host a pleading look as if to say; please talk to him, unaware that they'd already agreed Teutus wouldn't speak to his father. 

 

TAG: @Sharpie @Atrice

If they both want to leave, we could always have Charis and Teutus walk home to greet Tertius together! :D 

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"It's Saturnalia," Teutus pointed out. "You have every right not to have me disturb you - I am not going to make you leave just so I can have a conversation that can wait until after the holiday anyway."

She had enough to deal with from Teutus' father, he wasn't going to make it worse for her.

"I'll find you after the festival, Alexius - I'm sorry I interrupted you both," he said. "You don't have to leave on my account, Charis."

She was between him and the door.

"Stay. Enjoy yourselves - it's Saturnalia. Excuse me, please."

He was going to go and find a wine-bar and have a drink or three. He needed them, and had no desire to head home for some time.

 

@Atrice @Sara

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It was a mess, Alexius was not sorry about last night, but he was sorry about right now and sorry about not realizing that Teutus had talked about Charis… and Charis had talked about her son and about Teutus. Why had he not realized this? And now they both wanted to leave! Teutus said it first and Alexius was already halfway walking him to the door again, when Charis appeared and told Teutus to not leave, because she would. She slipped past them both, giving Alexius a look and then Teutus barged in, saying he would not make her leave and it was Saturnalia.

 Then he added that he’d find Alexius another time, but Charis was still nearer the door. Alexius sighed, looking at them both, becoming a bit frustrated with their behavior now. Teutus always appeared a bit… uncertain of what to say and Charis was careful too, although not last night. Now however, she’d resumed to being a slave attempting to not displease the freedmen around her. And she didn’t have to act like that here. None of them had to act like slaves here. None of them had to make excuses. It was his mess and he still had to fix it.

 Alexius took a few long steps over towards the door, touching it before Charis did, “Alright stop, both of you.” Alexius told them, “You’re both so busy making excuses for yourselves, acting as if you’re unwanted here. You are not, neither of you!” Alexius said, “I suggest you both stay, we share a cup of wine and… relax a little. Or you both act like normal people and not like… this… and you both leave as friends.” His hand left the door then, “So… what will it be?”

@Sara @Sharpie

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Charis flinched at Alexius' words. Not because she was afraid - she didn't think she'd ever be afraid of the gentle giant - but because she was on alert, the room was swollen with tension and every word made her anxiety heighten. She was alive to the fact that Teutus had confirmed he wouldn't tell his father, and that Alexius - poor sweet Alexius - was trying to make it better, but could it be made better? She very much doubted it. 

Something in her was stirring and she shook her head - barring the exit for both herself and Teutus. "It won't be fixed by wine, Alexius." She said firmly, in a manner which surprised even herself. "Teutus and I and his father..." She gave a breathless, mirthless laugh, "It's all...fucked." She actually did laugh then. Properly, from her belly and she reached a hand to smother it as giggles left her lips. "It's all totally fucked. Some days I think it would have been better had I been sent to the mines or the brothels, like the slavers had planned when I didn't sell at first." At least life would have been simple. 

 

TAG: @Sharpie @Atrice

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"My father likes to keep things complicated," Teutus managed, a little tightly. "It seems I have inherited that trait, though I've never done it on purpose. I'm - sorry that you ended up in the middle of it all, Charis."

He was, too, despite his own inability to do the slightest thing about it. And now of course Alexius had got caught up in the fall-out too, which was completely unfair because he'd never done a damn thing to deserve that, except try to cheer Teutus up that day.

"It isn't your fault, either of you. You both deserve better than being tangled up with my family."

 

@Atrice @Sara

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Alexius hadn’t meant to make Charis flinch, he really just wanted them both to listen. Because were they aware of how foolish this all was? Charis was his friend… his lover, even. They just shared the most amazing night together! And Teutus, well, that’s his friend too, they talked about going into business together and on top of that, Teutus wasn’t too bad in bed either! But apparently, they had a strange relationship with each other. That wouldn’t do, not in his home.

 Charis began talking then, about how things could not be fixed by wine this time and then said everything was just fucked and how she almost wished she’d gone to the mines or a brothel and not the house she ended up in. Alexius felt bad for his harsh words just before then, wanting nothing but to comfort her. Think to end up in a house that would make you wish such things upon yourself! The mines, that's where you sent slaves who weren't good for anything else. And the brothels... no. He didn't want to imagine Charis there! Teutus intervened, apologizing again for complicating things. That boy really needed to stop apologizing all the time.

 “And you both deserve better than how you’re treating yourselves now.” Alexius simply said after Teutus’ words. He hated this situation. And he hated giving up on trying to fix it, but none of them seemed to think it could happen. This was not going according to his head, not at all.

 But he’d have to do it. He wouldn’t upset them further… so he would back down, even though he didn’t really want to. Else this could go on forever. So… “And I want you both to know, that despite this… incident… you’re both as welcome here after, as you were before. My door is open.” As was the rest of him, but they both knew that already. No need to say that.

@Sara @Sharpie

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Charis felt flustered by her outburst. It had been brewing for a long time, although she hadn't realised it at the time. She hadn't been quite right, not herself, since the incident that had resulted in her locked up in her rooms - broken and defeated. She'd regained much of her personality but certain things - how she reacted to traumatic incidents or uncomfortable situations - had changed. She became submissive, quiet, withdrawn. Up until she'd broken down, a moment ago. 

She felt tears prickle at her eyes and she swallowed, repeating to herself in a whisper - even after both of their apologies and platitudes; "It's just so fucked..." Shaking her head, and being utterly unable to stand the atmosphere in the room she hurriedly moved to the door again. But something stayed her and she glanced back at both the men. She nibbled her lower lip and then moved back to each in turn, leaning up on her tip toes for both to leave a kiss of peace on their cheeks in turn. "Thank you." she said to both of them, earnestly, and then fled in one hurried movement, out of the room into the fresh morning air of the balcony outside. She took a deep, cleansing breath and started to move down the stairs, on her way back home. It was all so fucked. 

 

TAG: @Sharpie @Atrice

Can either continue it at Tertius' house, or leave it there! 

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"Thank you, Alexius. Um... I'll come back tomorrow about that warehouse, if you don't mind - I think I need to try to straighten things out with Charis." Teutus took a breath. It was so messed up, the whole thing, and Charis didn't deserve any of it at all.  "I'm sorry you got mixed up in it all, none of it is your fault, and I hadn't meant to suggest that any of it was at all - I've got to catch up with her."

He turned to follow her down the stairs and out into the street. "Charis! Charis, please wait - please!"

 

@Sara ( @Atrice ?)

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If he could take Charis away from it all, he would. She didn't deserve the life she'd been given here, not at all. She wasn't happy. And she was sweet and friendly and funny and beautiful... she deserved a happy life. But this was Rome and Rome was not always kind to people like her, especially not when they were slaves. She was about to leave again, but then came back, kissed both Alexius and Teutus on their cheeks and left. Alexius sighed and Teutus promised he'd come back the next day, because he had to talk to Charis now. 

"It isn't your fault either, Teutus." Alexius said, "Be kind to her." He added, before Teutus too left and Alexius stood for a moment, before he closed the door. Well... that was that. Charis was never going to come back now, was she? And it had been so good. He turned around to begin cleaning up around the table and not long after, the curtains around Lexus' bed moved and his son appeared, scratching his cheek in a tired manner.

"Well that was interesting. I don't think I've heard all that before." Lexus said, rolling his eyes at his father, before picking up a clean drinking cup and pouring some wine into it, "Did you ever consider thinking, before you just... do what you do. No, forget I said it. It's too late for that." Lexus walked back towards his own bed and before Alexius could answer, his son pulled the curtains, clearly not ready for any talk about anything. Moments later, Alexius did exactly what his son had done, retreated to his bed with a cup of wine. It really all was fucked. And what could he do to make it better? Nothing. He was useless in this matter. Utterly useless. And that was fucked too.

@Sara @Sharpie 

THE END

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